Interviews,  Show Notes

Episode 231: What to Do When The Literary Life Feels Overwhelming

This week on The Literary Life podcast Angelina Stanford is joined by friends and fellow readers Cindy Rollins, Emily Raible, and Jone Rose to discuss how to deal with overwhelm with your literary life. Angelina opens the conversation with the acknowledgment that everyone has moments when they feel overwhelmed by the amount of things to read and to know. Jone talks about how she tries to avoid comparing herself and her reading life to that of others. Cindy talks about how she has seen the Enemy twist something that is a good gift and made it into a negative.

Other encouraging and helpful ideas they discuss are the following: motivation of making connections, how to work up to more challenging books, protecting your brain and attention span, learning to enjoy the feast, and continuing the literary life for the long haul.

Find out more about Cindy’s summer Narration Bootcamps over at Look for more information about the summer classes over, too!

Listen to The Literary Life:

Commonplace Quotes:

Now you must remember, whenever you have to deal with him, that Analysis, like fire, is a very good servant but a very bad master, for having got his freedom only of late years or so he is, like young men when they come suddenly to be their own masters, apt to be conceited and to fancy that he knows everything when he really knows nothing and can never know anything but only knows about things, which is a different matter. Emily shares her eye-opening understanding after starting out discouraged about being “behind” in her self-education journey.

Charles Kingsley

Words can come to the ear like blowing wind and neither stop nor remain, just passing by like fleeting time, if hearts and minds aren’t awake, aren’t ready and willing to receive them. Only the heart can take them in and hold them and keep them.

Chrétrien de Troyes, trans. by Burton Raffel, from Yvain, The Knight of the Lion

I have my doubts about all this real value in mountaineering, of getting to the top of everywhere and overlooking everything. Satan was the most celebrated of alpine guides when he took Jesus to the top of an exceeding high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the earth. But the joy of Satan standing on a peak, in not a joy in largeness, but a joy in beholding smallness in the fact that all men look like insects at his feet. It is from the valley that things look large. It is from the level that things look high. I am a child of the level and have no need of that celebrated alpine guide. Everything is an attitude of the mind, and at this moment I am in comfortable attitude. I will sit still and let the marvels and the adventures settle on me like flies. There are plenty of them, I assure you. The world will never starve for want of wonders, but only for want of wonder.

G. K. Chesterton, from Tremendous Trifles

And prodigies with a vengeance have I known thus produced, prodigies of self-conceit, shallowness, arrogance, and infidelity. Instead of storing the memory during the period when the memory is the predominant faculty with facts for the after-exercise of the judgement, and instead of awakening by the noblest models the fond and unmixed love and admiration which is the natural and graceful temper of early youth, these nurslings of improved pedagogy are taught to dispute and decide, to suspect all but their own and their lecturers’ wisdom and to hold nothing sacred from their contempt but their own contemptible arrogance, boy graduates in all the technicals and in all the dirty passions and impudence of anonymous criticism.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge, as quoted in Mariner by Malcom Guite

from “Il Penseroso”

by John Bunyan

But let my due feet never fail
To walk the studious cloister's pale,
And love the high embowed roof,
With antique pillars massy proof,
And storied windows richly dight,
Casting a dim religious light.
There let the pealing organ blow,
To the full-voic'd quire below,
In service high, and anthems clear,
As may with sweetness, through mine ear,
Dissolve me into ecstasies,
And bring all Heav'n before mine eyes.
And may at last my weary age
Find out the peaceful hermitage,
The hairy gown and mossy cell,
Where I may sit and rightly spell
Of every star that Heav'n doth shew,
And every herb that sips the dew;
Till old experience do attain
To something like prophetic strain.
These pleasures, Melancholy, give,
And I with thee will choose to live.

Book List:

Beyond Mere Motherhood by Cindy Rollins

The Life of Samuel Johnson by James Boswell

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien

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Connect with Us:

You can find Angelina and Thomas at, on Instagram @angelinastanford, and on Facebook at

Find Cindy at, on Instagram @cindyordoamoris and on Facebook at Check out Cindy’s own Patreon page also!

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  • Kathy Kunkle

    Help! I am not on Facebook. Would you please provide a list of the brain development and functioning books Angelina was referring to in this episode. . . and thank you!

  • Christina Blalock

    May we please have the books that Angelina is reading in relation to brain development and the impact of modern technology on our thinking?

    Thank you for another thought provoking podcast!!

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